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I invited Buddy and Blossom to Friday night dinner, with three courses featuring produce from this garden. After drinks and chat we applied ourselves to the first dish, delicious artichoke soup. We proceeded to the entrées of trout with almonds, served with home grown vegetables, whereon I noticed that Bud was stifling the odd burp. He moved on to hiccups, then discreet belching. By the time that we reached raspberry sherbet dessert, he was looking distinctly uncomfortable. I went to the kitchen to assemble coffee and heard the patter of highly polished shoes, as our guest headed for the bathroom at the other end of the hall. When I rejoined the table, we embarked on small talk to hide the fact that due to a cruel acute acoustic, we could hear an operatic performance from the little boy’s room. After they left, we cleared the plates. “Well,” said Attila, “He went off like a firework lit at both ends.”
This year's front door containers

This year’s front door containers

A bright day is forecast for Saturday. What are we doing? Gardening, I tell my spouse; in particular, we are digging up the fart fuel. Jerusalem artichoke is named as a mis-translation of giroles or sunflower, for its large yellow daisy heads. Mine have never bloomed, which is another point in their disfavour. I went in with my lethal little sharp spade and removed every scrap of indigestion inducing root, whilst being well aware that any missed shreds will sprout next year. I’m going to replace the beastly things with a blond crab apple such as “Comtesse de Paris”, “Butterball” or “Golden Hornet”.
Lantana (shrub verbena) in the conservatory
Lantana (shrub verbena) in the conservatory

I’m full of righteous indignation that my best intentions should leave a friend in some distress. What else is annoying me? There’s a huge spreedy fuchsia which takes up too much room in return for a paltry performance. I attacked it and evicted the shrub, churning the soil like a one woman JCB. The plant sales at the NGS open gardens have been particularly good in recent months and the back path was becoming impassable due to an excess of bargains, causing some family friction when Attila required access to his shed. Now I have somewhere to place them. There is a Eupatorium (grass root) to fill a substantial part of the empty space. I’ve got a fabulous rose, “Souvenir du Dr. Jamain” for perfume, some Crocosmia “Emberglow” and three Heuchera “Plum Pudding” to drift between the larger specimens.
Agastache (hyssop) 'Black Adder'
Agastache (hyssop) ‘Black Adder’

What’s next? The Pernettya (prickly heath) has been on my hit list for a while. After many barren years I went pimping for another, to provide fertilisation. Now I have two mounds of gardener unfriendly spiked foliage and the original bush has broken out in berries which look like boils. It sits in the blue and purple patch, seeming self satisfied with being exactly not right. I’m going to replace it with a tiny Ceanothus, bought ridiculously cheaply from Morrison’s supermarket. If I had made this decision ten years ago, instead of installing the uncompromising blister bush, I wouldn’t feel so irritable now. I spent the rest of the day chopping down spent stems and wayward branches. Anything that has ever smacked me in the mouth or raked me in the face has been tamed, trimmed and tied up. I’m hot, tired and aching; I’ve got leaves in my hair, dirt under my fingernails and I smell of earthworms but finally, I feel a whole lot better.

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